The resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has caused many businesses to pause and take stock of their company values and what they represent. This week, Quaker Oats announced it will rebrand the popular maple syrup, Aunt Jemima, and Mars, Inc., which owns Uncle Ben’s rice products, announced a similar move. Other products such as Cream of Wheat and Mrs. Butterworth’s are following suit.
Diversity & Inclusion
In non-COVID times Pride supporters filled their calendars with parades and events across the globe, celebrating the beauty and importance of LGBTQ+ rights and representation. It seems only fitting during this time of another equality movement, Black Lives Matter, that messaging reflect a nod to the history of Pride—an uprising against police brutality by the queer community.
Kathy Bloomgarden, CEO of Ruder Finn, spoke with Holly Teichholtz, SVP communications and content strategies at The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. The two discussed pandemic-related disruptions to the workplace, the future of work, and how the nonprofit sector can best respond to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Communicators and the companies they represent are wrestling with what to communicate, if anything, about diversity and inclusion. In the end, the best response seems to be the authentic one, interviews with PR pros indicate.
The CrossFit debacle is not a crisis to be envied by communicators, however, the transparency it provided the public with its poor choices and timing prove that it is trying to regain the community’s trust and respect.
In a wide-ranging interview, PRSA chair T. Garland Stansell argues that diversity and inclusion should be year-round concerns for communicators. In addition, he believes PR pros have a vital role to play in combatting the scourge of misinformation about coronavirus treatments. “People are looking for direction and leadership, and it is our job to be truthful, transparent, and trustworthy,” he says.
As companies look at addressing their D&I issues, one place to start may be who should fill the shoes of those replaced. Particularly in media, no one can leave a prestigious editorial leadership position gaping for long, as news never stops. However, who and how you choose to replace can have a long-term impact on any organization.
We’re at a crossroads, so the question is not whether brands should speak out, but how. Yet lacking an authentic message backed up with action, brands can be headed for disaster. In addition, before wading into multicultural communication and marketing, know your audience, be respectful and commit to a long-term commitment.
Many employees have received or will receive statements from senior management detailing the company’s stance on supporting diversity and the Black Lives Matter protests. The PR community knows the power of communication and what words and messages represent. We look at how some companies and trade groups are shaping internal communication at this moment.
The killing of George Floyd led the author to think of her father, an immigrant who poured his life into his children. He expected that providing his children with a strong education would help them succeed professionally and personally. Pure merit isn’t enough when structural racism and exclusionary practices exist. The status quo must go, the author argues. Stakeholder capitalism is here to stay.